Internships, mentors and self-development

I did not take any culinary courses, I studied everything on my own, and started to progress by myself. A great contribution to my career was made by Ilya Lazerson. I was visiting his culinary studio when I had free time and was helping him. I was earning less than I was spending on the road, but at that moment I was not thinking about money at all, I had other goals.

I was travelling abroad and completing a lot of different internships. During one of them I met Michel Lenz. Michel Lenz had a contract with the Metropolitan, and he worked in St. Petersburg for some time. I also did an internship at the Arzak (3 *** Michelin) restaurant in San Sebastian in Spain. I got a lot of inspiration in this place, when I saw that the chief, who at that time was more than 70 years old, worked on servery. At that moment, I realized how cool it was! And this motivates me, too, to work on servery in my restaurants. I think that the chef, being a restaurateur, still should not forget about his cook profession.

How to balance between the roles of the chef and the entrepreneur

This is a very difficult question, of course you remain the chef in your restaurants. You can hire people to help you. For example, in my restaurant Teriberka, I have a chef Artem from Kazan. But at the same time, I understand that of course I have to become a restaurateur, since any project should bring money. There are very few projects, such as restaurants of Dima Blinov (Duo Asia, Tartarbar in St. Petersburg), that are small, but at the same time bringing in money. As a restaurateur and chief, I understand very well that it is very difficult to earn big money on a small footage, it is almost impossible. Still, to make money, the restaurant must have at least 60-70 seats. It is difficult for the chef to switch to the “restaurateur” mode. Personally, this is not easy for me.

About the launch of a new restaurant in Moscow

Now in Moscow, we are planning to launch a new project with young and very progressive restaurateurs. As a basis for preparing dishes, we take such technology as smoking. It will be a beer restaurant with various kinds of smoked products, which will be sold by weight. The restaurant will have its own smokehouse. The idea of selling products by weight is not yet so widespread in Russia.

Work in restaurants and own project

Recently I signed a contract with the restaurant “Dobryanka” in Novosibirsk, in which the brand-chef is Maxim Syrnikov. In this restaurant, I am a concept-chef and ideologist and I am engaged in creations, development of new plating, changes in the menu.

Also, I opened my own restaurant Teriberka in St. Petersburg. The concept of this restaurant is very simple: all the products in restaurant are from Teriberka. I regularly go there personally for food, diving and catching fish and sea products. This is perhaps the only such restaurant in Russia, in which the boss knows under what kind of stone he has got his crab, scallops and sea-hedgehogs. The product is fully controlled without any intermediaries. My friends who are free divers from Murmansk help me to get sea food and fish. They help to replenish my reserves when I do not have the chance to do it.

Family business 

One of my restaurants was built next to the school where my son Ruslan is studying. He was coming from school and helping me to cook, my wife Lena was brewing coffee at the bar in the morning. In Russia it is difficult to realize this so far, it’s easier to do it abroad.

About a possible move abroad 

I do not leave these thoughts, and at the moment I’m working on it. Now I want to be in warm countries, and not in rainy Petersburg. For the last 8 years, I’ve been traveling to various countries, making various dinners, updating the menu in restaurants. The same thing I could do, for example, in Barcelona or Cyprus. I would take the opportunity to move abroad. In St. Petersburg, I have my own database of guests who come to me, support me, and I am sincerely grateful to them.

The qualities that distinguish a professional

The professionalism of the chef depends not on how he serves. The chef must first of all be universal, modern, able to do some interesting things. It is very important that it is pleasant to work with him and he is able to communicate successfully with other people. A universal chef can work with menus of different levels and find a way out of any situation that may occur in a restaurant.

Basics of the basics 

All new ideas of the chef must necessarily be based on the base. Base, first of all, is the French cuisine. Restaurants such as Geranium, Noma are bright examples of restaurants that successfully use this. In the world of gastronomy and haute cuisine French base is the best one. Dehydration, fermentation and sublimation are those techniques that also came to us from French cuisine.

It is very good, that cooks began to study more recently. A couple of years ago, no more than 5 % of all the fairs came to events and master classes, now we see that 15-20% of cooks started to study. This trend is definitely very positive. Nevertheless, we still have much to learn.

How inspiration is born

The main thing is to have a good mood and a good company. Inspiration often appears during trips. Most often inspiration comes to me in Teriberka or when I go to the sea and to the forest. And of course, my guests inspire me.

Surprising the guests 

One of the recent dishes that I managed to surprise guests during dinner in Estonia is a parrot fish. I prepared it by taking the classic recipe of “pike-perch in Polish”, but I interpreted this dish in my own way.

Work with seasonal products 

The whole secret is that several popular products are being taken, namely beef, lamb, salmon, halibut, white fish, cod, and the whole story is built around them. Then, various interesting seasonal ingredients are added to these products. In order to observe the seasonality, I compiled a special table, in which I indicated all the months, and below them listed seasonal products – whitefish, guinea fowl, mushrooms and so on. I note the month in the chart with green color when these products are in stock, yellow mean that these products can be obtained, red mean that it is impossible to get them. So, for example, I know that I can get the whitefish only in October and November. I created this table more than 3 years ago, thanks to it I am perfectly guided in the seasonality of each product. It also helps me a lot in creating new dishes.